A Thought For Food » where ideas are brought to simmer

Fettuccine with Grapefruit Sauce, Brussels Sprouts + Manchego

We got home late Sunday evening, unpacked the car, put up a pot of tea, and got ourselves situated on the couch. Maki promptly passed out. We read a little, before heading to bed. I knew that last week wasn’t going to be relaxing. We had a lot on our plates. There was the drive down, the multiple days of cooking, which was then followed by a family brunch, a trip to New York to see Hedwig (our second time this year), and a wedding shoot in Brooklyn. It’s not that we didn’t have fun. We did. But it was the kind of trip where we came back and just crashed.

I avoided work as much as possible on Monday. I took long walks with Maki, watched a movie, and I even got myself on the elliptical for a few minutes (having not used it in over a month, it wasn’t the best experience). There was a little time spent in the kitchen, too. For a while now, I’ve been meaning to create a Brussels sprout recipe. My family is well aware of my love of these guys. The web is inundated with Brussels sprout recipes, though (do a search for “roasted Brussels sprouts” and you’ll see what I’m talking about). The goal was to come up with something a little different and yet keep the dish familiar. As I started thinking of what to do with them, I figured throwing pasta into the mix couldn’t hurt. But how to bring it all together? A creamy grapefruit sauce, rich and slightly tangy.  A touch of thyme. A sprinkle of cheese and a hearty dose of freshly ground pepper. And… done.

Fettuccine with Grapefruit Sauce, Brussels Sprouts + ManchegoFettuccine with Grapefruit Sauce, Brussels Sprouts + ManchegoFettuccine with Grapefruit Sauce, Brussels Sprouts + ManchegoFettuccine with Grapefruit Sauce, Brussels Sprouts + Manchego

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  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla SugarDecember 3, 2014 - 2:38 am

    Coming home after long trips is the best – especially to a comforting meal! This pasta looks fabulous. I love that sauce!ReplyCancel

  • Liz @ Floating KitchenDecember 3, 2014 - 8:55 am

    Wow – this is so creative. Grapefruit sauce sounds amazing. And I can never have enough brussels sprouts!ReplyCancel

  • TieghanDecember 3, 2014 - 9:13 am

    It always feels good to be home after a trip and when creamy pasta is involved you know things are going to be delicious!! Loving the idea of a grapefruit sauce!ReplyCancel

  • AnnaDecember 3, 2014 - 9:14 am

    Wow. This looks beautiful and sounds incredible! I adore brussels sprouts and have been looking to do something a little different with them. This is it!ReplyCancel

  • Nicole, RDDecember 3, 2014 - 9:59 am

    grapefruit and vermouth with heavy cream? heavenly.ReplyCancel

  • Cookin CanuckDecember 3, 2014 - 10:25 am

    That sounds like one exhausting weekend! I think I would have crashed, too. This pasta is so original and I’m completely intrigued by the mixture of grapefruit and Brussels sprouts.ReplyCancel

  • Heidi @foodiecrushDecember 3, 2014 - 12:00 pm

    I love that you took time for yourself first, then created something special for others. You’ve somehow taken two flavors that I’d never imagine together to create a GORGEOUS pasta. Also, love the new look of the site!ReplyCancel

  • merry jenniferDecember 3, 2014 - 1:07 pm

    It sounds like you had a wonderful week last week. I know you must have been worn out, though, after it all. What a lovely pasta recipe to celebrate your return home. I’m also completely addicted to Brussels – I roast them at least once per week. Thanks for another idea to change things up. :)ReplyCancel

  • Nicole MorrisseyDecember 3, 2014 - 2:58 pm

    grapefruit and vermouth with heavy cream? heavenly.ReplyCancel

  • EileenDecember 3, 2014 - 4:13 pm

    We had one of those come-home-and-crash-immediately trips this past September. Not such a fun aftermath! Hope you guys recover soon. :) Also, grapefruit sauce?? Such a great idea, especially with sprouts!ReplyCancel

  • Kim BeaulieuDecember 4, 2014 - 2:13 am

    I think you really succeeded in creating something super unique with this one. I love the flavours, and that you made pasta with the brussel sprouts. As always your photos are stellar. I love your blog, it feels so peaceful.ReplyCancel

  • ValerieDecember 4, 2014 - 7:30 am

    I am excited to give this flavor combination a try. Looks delicious!ReplyCancel

  • bev @ bevcooksDecember 4, 2014 - 10:27 am

    THIS is all I’ll ever need in life. (plus my babies and husband and dog and a wine)ReplyCancel

  • KellyDecember 5, 2014 - 1:30 pm

    This dish is so creative and looks like a bowl full of comfort! I need to make this. Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • […] fettuccine with grapefruit sauce. holy […]ReplyCancel

  • Jamie | Jamie's RecipesDecember 8, 2014 - 10:04 am

    I am so intrigued by the grapefruit sauce. My family loves pasta and brussels sprouts they would adore this dish.ReplyCancel

  • Jamie's RecipesDecember 8, 2014 - 3:03 pm

    I am so intrigued by the grapefruit sauce. My family loves pasta and brussels sprouts, they would adore this dish.ReplyCancel

  • DeniseDecember 9, 2014 - 7:53 pm

    Rest, and keep healthy during these long weeks. I feel the same pain as we head into our last work project of the year – officially have closed the FVM offices after the weekend!

    This is an outrageous flavor combination! I love the addition of grapefruit, it must add a brightness to the dish, and one can never go wrong with sprouts!ReplyCancel

  • SusanFebruary 10, 2015 - 10:03 pm

    Looks wonderful, tastes wonderful. Didn’t have any cream so used yoghurt instead and LoVED it! Thanks for this great combination.ReplyCancel

Cranberry Sauce Ice Cream

I’ve been on an ice cream kick recently. And by recently I mean since the beginning of the summer. It was such a harmless idea. My sister-in-law thought it’d be fun to bring an ice cream machine down to the Cape house to show her kids how to make it from scratch. A great rainy day activity. They loved the ice cream, but were less interested in the process of preparing it. The adults, on the other hand, became obsessed. The vanilla ice cream we made using a recipe from Melissa Clark over at the New York Times was wonderful; smooth, creamy, and not overly sweet. At that point, we were hooked. What would should we make next? 

While there have been a few misses, most have been hugely successful. Favorites were coffee, Oreo, and, the biggest hit, blueberry crumble. I took a short break from making ice cream, but, over the last month, have gotten back into it. Pumpkin was delicious, as was this cranberry sauce ice cream that I prepared for Friendsgiving. Served with apple cake, it was the perfect balance of sweet and tart. Having made four batches of it over the course of a week, I think I could do with my eyes closed.

Part of the joy of making ice cream comes from watching your creation churn in the mixer. For a while, I’d been using a machine that was a gift from my mom. It worked well enough, but it was starting to slow down. Time for an upgrade! I’d heard from a number of people, including my mom, who’s also fallen hard for homemade ice cream, that the KitchenAid attachment worked well. So, I reached out to my friends over there, who were generous enough to send it over for me to play with. Since receiving the attachment, I’ve used it a half a dozen times, and it’s worked beautifully on each occasion. I find that the bowl freezes quickly, which was not the case with my last machine. The paddle does a great job scraping the sides of the bowl, too. Overall, I’ve been pretty happy with it.

Cranberry Sauce Ice CreamCranberry Sauce Ice CreamCranberry Sauce Ice CreamCranberry Sauce Ice CreamCranberry Sauce Ice CreamCranberry Sauce Ice Cream // A Thought For FoodCranberry Sauce Ice Cream // A Thought For Food

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  • Matt RobinsonNovember 24, 2014 - 1:48 am

    First of all, incredible pictures. I need to give ice cream a shot but I know it would turn into an addiction. LOVE the flavors in this. Hope you guys have a great Thanksgiving!ReplyCancel

    • Brian @ A Thought For FoodNovember 24, 2014 - 8:18 am

      You definitely need to try making ice cream. The kids will love it. And thank you for your sweet words!ReplyCancel

  • Mardi (eat. live. travel. write.)November 24, 2014 - 6:45 am

    Such a brilliant idea, Brian!ReplyCancel

  • Kelly Senyei | Just a TasteNovember 24, 2014 - 8:35 am

    My mouth is watering and your photos are SPECTACULAR!!!ReplyCancel

  • Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabblesNovember 24, 2014 - 8:59 am

    This is just gorgeous. Love the thought of tart cranberry with rich and creamy ice cream. Happy Thanksgiving, Brian!ReplyCancel

  • TieghanNovember 24, 2014 - 9:10 am

    Such gorgeous shots!! Wow! This ice cream sound so great! :)ReplyCancel

  • AshleyNovember 24, 2014 - 10:04 am

    Oh my gosh, that straining photo!!!!! Amaze.ReplyCancel

  • naomiNovember 24, 2014 - 10:55 am

    This is pure genius! I love it. And so perfect for leftover cranberry sauce.ReplyCancel

  • Liz @ Floating KitchenNovember 24, 2014 - 3:11 pm

    This is such a beautiful ice cream! Wonderful ice. And yes to ice cream ALL YEAR LONG! It has no season in my opinion!ReplyCancel

  • Mallory @forkvsspoonNovember 24, 2014 - 3:34 pm

    So glad I bought extra cranberries last week…can’t wait to try this. And your pics…as usual, are just lovely as all get out!ReplyCancel

  • Lise Sullivan OdeNovember 24, 2014 - 4:17 pm


  • omletNovember 24, 2014 - 5:56 pm

    I bet this is so good! These flavors are perfection!ReplyCancel

  • […] wait until you serve them cranberry salsa before the big feast. (I also just found this recipe for cranberry sauce ice cream. […]ReplyCancel

  • Susan GumlockNovember 25, 2014 - 11:11 pm

    interesting. I’d give it a try!ReplyCancel

  • […] Cranberry Sauce Ice Cream | A Thought For Food […]ReplyCancel

  • KellyNovember 26, 2014 - 3:29 pm

    I have an extra bag of cranberries sitting around and now I know what to do with them. Thanks for the recipe! Your photos are beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • Hilary FreemanNovember 29, 2014 - 12:55 am

    I made this a few years ago and still dream of it. So good.ReplyCancel

  • ShainaDecember 1, 2014 - 2:16 pm

    It is unseasonably cold here (already dipping into negative numbers), but I still want this ice cream.ReplyCancel

  • Laura DembowskiDecember 18, 2014 - 8:44 am

    I’ve been craving ice cream like crazy. This is such a fun twist to make me want to break out the ice cream maker.ReplyCancel

 Cauliflower, Fig + Walnut Salad with Tahini Dressing

A chill has arrived in the air. It’s crisp and harsh on the nose. Extra layers of clothing and warm, fluffy socks go on before heading out. The pace of our walks has turned brisk.  I look forward to a mug of coffee or tea, as hot as I can get it without burning my tongue, which I’ll make as soon as I get home. Maki doesn’t seem to want to spend extended periods of time outside either. As soon as we get inside, she immediately curls up on her bed, as if to say, “Ok, I don’t need to go out there for a while!”.

We’re gearing up for our first Friendsgiving dinner in our house. The menu is coming together: a slow-cooked brisket, smoked on the grill and then transferred to the oven for eight hours, and herb and garlic roasted fish. The side dishes are coming along as well. One that will be gracing our table is this cauliflower salad. Or maybe it’s a slaw. Whatever you want to call it, there are some great textures and bright flavors in this side. And pomegranate adds a bit of tartness and, of course, that pop of color that makes this so striking to look at.

Cauliflower, Fig + Walnut Salad with Tahini Dressing // A Thought For FoodCauliflower, Fig + Walnut Salad with Tahini Dressing // A Thought For FoodCauliflower, Fig + Walnut Salad with Tahini Dressing // A Thought For FoodCauliflower, Fig + Walnut Salad with Tahini Dressing // A Thought For FoodCauliflower, Fig + Walnut Salad with Tahini Dressing // A Thought For FoodCauliflower, Fig + Walnut Salad with Tahini Dressing // A Thought For Food

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  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla SugarNovember 17, 2014 - 3:33 am

    This salad is so pretty! And perfect for friendsgiving or any get together, really. I just love it.ReplyCancel

  • Lail | With A SpinNovember 17, 2014 - 4:52 am

    Perfect salad for friendsgiving or any other celebrations. I love tahini and tahini dressing. The addition of pomegranate makes the salad very festive. Love it.ReplyCancel

  • Liz @ The Lemon BowlNovember 17, 2014 - 8:18 am

    I love everything about this flavorful salad! So much color and so healthy!ReplyCancel

  • Liz @ Floating KitchenNovember 17, 2014 - 8:48 am

    Lovely colors here. Perfect Friendsgiving salad! And love me some tahini – I want to put it on everything!ReplyCancel

  • Nutmeg NannyNovember 17, 2014 - 9:02 am

    Such a beautiful salad! This would be a show stopped on the Thanksgiving table. Yum!ReplyCancel

  • LirenNovember 17, 2014 - 9:03 am

    I’m with Maki, it’s getting chilly, even out here, where I just want to curl up on the couch between ventures outside. It’s so nice to know that winter is here! I’ve been drinking as much coffee and tea as I can, and even just hot water, too. I love how your friendsgiving menu is turning out, Brian. This salad is such a lovely blend of textures and flavors. And quite pretty, too :-)ReplyCancel

  • TieghanNovember 17, 2014 - 9:05 am

    What a beautiful Salad. I just love those pomegranates! Perfect for Friendsgiving!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica @ Jessica in the KitchenNovember 17, 2014 - 11:52 am

    Stunning photos, and beautifully innovative dish!ReplyCancel

  • NaomiNovember 17, 2014 - 12:20 pm

    Such a gorgeous dish. This should be well received at your friendsgiving!ReplyCancel

  • Patricia ConteNovember 17, 2014 - 3:51 pm

    Oh wow! So many of my favorite things! This is gorgeous and would make a great holiday salad!ReplyCancel

  • angela@spinachtigerNovember 17, 2014 - 8:03 pm

    This is so pretty for any holiday. It would be nice for Christmas.ReplyCancel

  • Brandon @ Kitchen KonfidenceNovember 17, 2014 - 8:20 pm

    Such a gorgeous salad! PS. I just tested out the process of seeding a pomegranate under water, and it’s life changing. So easy. No mess.ReplyCancel

  • Jessica @ Golden Brown and DeliciousNovember 17, 2014 - 11:15 pm

    I haven’t had a pomegranate yet this season, and I think it’s just about time. This looks so good!ReplyCancel

  • Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabblesNovember 18, 2014 - 7:41 am

    Absolutely gorgeous. I’ll be making this one for sure!!ReplyCancel

  • francescaNovember 18, 2014 - 8:51 am

    Gorgeous indeed – makes eating salad a palatable idea in winter : )ReplyCancel

  • Graham @ Glazed & ConfusedNovember 18, 2014 - 11:29 am

    First off, I’m genuinely gutted that it’s taken me this long to stumble upon your blog. Kind of screaming out of pure hangry-ness right now because everything is looking absolutely amazing.

    This salad though…. you just combined the greatest things (figs own my heart) and I love you SO much for bringing this into me life.ReplyCancel

  • […] Read more: http://www.athoughtforfood.net/cauliflower-fig-walnut-salad-tahini-dressing/?utm_source=feedburner&a… […]ReplyCancel

  • JoanneNovember 20, 2014 - 6:53 am

    So gorgeous. I’m not sure I’ll have time to make it for Thanksgiving, but I suspect that the colors will be totally perfect for Christmas.ReplyCancel

  • MaxNovember 20, 2014 - 5:39 pm

    This dish looks so delicious. But just one question : what camera do you use and what program to work the photos?


  • Currently Crushing On. | How Sweet It IsNovember 22, 2014 - 6:17 am

    […] cauliflower fig and walnut salad. […]ReplyCancel

  • Averie @ Averie CooksNovember 22, 2014 - 12:15 pm

    Brian this is gorgeous! I love cauliflower, so much! And I love that you worked in pom arils, too! Pinned! Happy Thanksgiving :)ReplyCancel

  • Millie | Add A LittleNovember 23, 2014 - 3:26 am

    This sounds great – I love making cauliflower salad with hazelnuts, pomegranates and honey!ReplyCancel

Lentils + Roasted Acorn Squash + Poached Egg // A Thought For Food

I have to admit something. This dish wasn’t a recipe I had been developing for months and months. In fact, the whole concept came together in a matter of minutes. Two of its key components, the lentils and the poached egg, were premeditated. But I had NO idea what else to include. When I looked around the kitchen for guidance, I realized there wasn’t much to work with; only a head of lettuce in the drawer and a big bag of potatoes on the counter.  And then I saw a small container of roasted acorn squash that I’d prepared the night before. “That should bring the whole thing together.” I thought.

It’s a hearty bowl, ideal for these chilly nights, and, like most of the best weeknight meals, can be adapted based on your crew. The poached egg is a nice choice for protein, as the yolk creates a dressing over the lentils, but sliced chicken or a piece of fish or a crumbly cheese would also make for a nice addition.

Lentils + Roasted Acorn Squash + Poached Egg // A Thought For Food

Lentils + Roasted Acorn Squash + Poached Egg // A Thought For Food

Lentils + Roasted Acorn Squash + Poached Egg // A Thought For Food

Lentils + Roasted Acorn Squash + Poached Egg // A Thought For Food

Lentils + Roasted Acorn Squash + Poached Egg // A Thought For Food

Lentils + Roasted Acorn Squash + Poached Egg


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  • TieghanNovember 10, 2014 - 9:00 am

    This could breakfast, lunch and dinner for me pretty much everyday. It’s all my favorites!ReplyCancel

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla SugarNovember 10, 2014 - 9:08 am

    I like recipes that come together quickly! And they’re always super satisfying too. Love this!ReplyCancel

  • KrisNovember 10, 2014 - 9:52 am

    Ok, you basically took looked on the list of my favourite foods, pulled out a few, and put them into one recipe. Eggs, squash, lentils, and smoked paprika in one?! You are a genius! Also so simple! I can guarantee I will be making this for dinner this week.ReplyCancel

  • Liz @ Floating KitchenNovember 10, 2014 - 10:38 am

    This looks perfectly cozy for breakfast, lunch or dinner! Gorgeous photos, as always!ReplyCancel

  • naomiNovember 10, 2014 - 11:57 am

    These are the best kind of recipes. I love the ones that are thrown together without to much production. And this just looks like a bowl of comfort.ReplyCancel

  • Brandon @ Kitchen KonfidenceNovember 10, 2014 - 1:29 pm

    Sometimes the best recipes come together on the fly. And this one looks so simple and comforting. Love it!ReplyCancel

  • NatashaNovember 10, 2014 - 3:26 pm

    Poached eggs are always such show stealers, look at that beaut! I love lentils with eggs, it really is a fantastically hearty, un-fussy combination.ReplyCancel

  • MeganNovember 10, 2014 - 5:48 pm

    Definitely my kind of dinner. It looks so warming and hearty.ReplyCancel

  • Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabblesNovember 10, 2014 - 6:21 pm

    Such a cozy and beautiful dish. Beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • EileenNovember 10, 2014 - 6:30 pm

    I love this idea! Such a simple and hearty combination, and the runny yolk just brings it all together.ReplyCancel

  • Sommer@ASpicyPerspectiveNovember 10, 2014 - 7:53 pm

    Gorgeous! Wish I would have found this BEFORE dinner.ReplyCancel

  • angela@spinachtigerNovember 10, 2014 - 8:24 pm

    Honestly, if you saw my blog, you would see eggs on everything. This is such a perfect meal. Real food. Easy food. Hearty food. Healthy food. Not to mention lots of texture and taste. Now why can’t more people eat like this?ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love.November 10, 2014 - 11:23 pm

    This looks so good!! I love when last minute dishes end up being amazing!ReplyCancel

  • JoanneNovember 11, 2014 - 7:19 am

    I love meals like this that are full of simple, but rich and delicious flavors. The acorn squash and the egg really do tie it all together!ReplyCancel

  • Anna @ Crunchy Creamy SweetNovember 11, 2014 - 8:38 am

    What a gorgeous dish! I love the poached egg on top!ReplyCancel

  • Megan {Country Cleaver}November 11, 2014 - 8:41 am

    Lentils are a big part of our lives here in WA, esp Eastern WA where they grow 80+% of the worlds lentils! I know, lentil-nerd moment. But this is absolute gorgeousness. I will have to make this for Ben ASAP.ReplyCancel

  • Amanda @ Cookie Named DesireNovember 11, 2014 - 8:58 am

    This looks delicious. Sometimes it’s those on the fly recipes that end up being the best. I am always looking for new ways to bring lentils in my life and I do have an acorn squash begging to be used, so I will probably use this recipe this week. Pinning for now!ReplyCancel

  • Jeanette's Healthy LivingNovember 11, 2014 - 12:05 pm

    This is right up my alley – love the poached egg on topReplyCancel

  • Lynn @ Order in the KitchenNovember 11, 2014 - 6:45 pm

    I absolutely love everything about this. Lentils are one of my favorite meals and add the acorn squash and poached egg and you get perfection. Stunning photos as well!ReplyCancel

  • Sylvie | Gourmande in the KitchenNovember 12, 2014 - 3:36 am

    Sounds perfect, the simplest of meals are usually the most satisfying!ReplyCancel

  • KellyNovember 12, 2014 - 1:35 pm

    I love the addition of the poached egg. This looks like the perfect winter comfort food! Pinning now!ReplyCancel

  • Aimee @ Simple BitesNovember 12, 2014 - 10:36 pm

    100% what I want to eat these days. Nailed it, Brian!ReplyCancel

  • Crushing On - Chez UsNovember 14, 2014 - 2:05 am

    […] lentils – breakfast next […]ReplyCancel

  • Friday Food Love | A Cookie Named DesireNovember 14, 2014 - 4:18 pm

    […] Lentils with Roasted Acorn Squash and Poached Egg – Breakfast! […]ReplyCancel

  • Weekend links and photos | Simple BitesNovember 16, 2014 - 5:49 am

    […] Lentils + Roasted Acorn Squash + Poached Egg :: A Thought for Food […]ReplyCancel

  • Make It Like a ManNovember 18, 2014 - 2:05 pm

    This is so gorgeous looking, that it almost makes me want to overcome my fear of lentils.ReplyCancel

  • francescaNovember 20, 2014 - 6:35 am

    Ahh, the ultimate savory breakfast. Well done.ReplyCancel

  • […] Wednesday – Sweet potato & lentil salad Thursday – Vegan cuban bowl Friday – Lentils + roasted acorn squash & mushrooms Saturday – Valentine’s […]ReplyCancel

Mezcalita de Citrico // A Thought For Food

One of our favorite pieces of furniture is an antique ice box Eric’s mom gave to us as a “house cooling present.” Weighing close to 500 pounds, it took four large men, and some guidance from Eric, to move it in.  It will remain exactly where it stands for as long as we’re here. The thing is a beast. But it’s a beautiful beast and we have a very special use for it: it’s where we store all our liquor. Well, most of our liquor. Beer and wine is stored downstairs. The ice box has everything else. Want bourbon? We have at least four kinds. Gin? Oh, we have plenty of that. Scotch, rum, tequila, vodka? Got it.

Recently, I’ve been playing around a bit more with tequila and mezcal.  I’ve always been a fan of agave-based spirits. Its vegetal flavor (mainly, notes of green pepper) is unlike anything I’ve experienced in other liquor.  I know not everyone enjoys them as much as I do. I have to wonder, though, if maybe the negative association comes from a bad experience with it in college many years ago and now they’ve sworn it off. It might be time to give them another try.

When I’m out at a bar, I’ll often request a combination of mezcal and citrus. I know I’ll get a balanced cocktail with those two ingredients. One evening at The Baldwin Bar, a gem of an establishment that is located north of Boston, I asked Ran Duan, the bar manager, to make me such a drink. A few minutes later, he presented a highball glass with a metal straw sticking out. The first sip took me aback. What is that? It’s good. I know that flavor. I like it. Is that… sesame oil? It may not have been the first time someone’s made a drink with oil in it, but for this guy here, it was life-altering. And that’s where the inspiration for this mezcalita came from.

MEZCAL_Triptych3Mezcalita de Citrico // A Thought For FoodMezcalita de Citrico // A Thought For FoodIMG_1493

You know who else would enjoy one of these drinks? Jessica of How Sweet It Is. Though, there’s a slight problem. Well, maybe we shouldn’t call it a problem… but it’s something that’s getting in the way of her consuming one (or a pitcher) of these: she’s having a baby. A bunch of us bloggers have banded together to throw a virtual baby shower for Jessica. Knowing her, I think she’s going to love every one of these recipes (the epic list can be found below). The idea was to do “trashed up” versions of different food and beverages. When it comes to drinks, though, it’s just all about the booze. And creating a drink that you want to have multiple rounds of. Pretty sure I got those things covered with this mezcalita.

So, I’m raising my glass to you, Jessica! I have no doubt that you’ll be a wonderful mother: caring, thoughtful, and a lot of fun. Just a few more months and you’ll be able to sip on one of these! I’m sure you can’t wait.

Mezcalita de Citrico // A Thought For FoodMezcalita de Citrico // A Thought For FoodView full post »

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How I Photograph Restaurants with Canon Lenses || via A Thought For Food

How I Photograph Restaurants with Canon Lenses || via A Thought For Food

Some people just grow up with a brand. For me, it was Canon. It’s what my parents purchased, thus it’s what I learned on. When I bought my first camcorder in film school, it was made by Canon. As Eric and I started taking trips early on in our relationship, it was a Canon PowerShot digital camera that we picked up. So, it made sense that when I started getting more passionate about food photography and blogging that my first DSLR would be from Canon (naturally, a EOS Rebel DSLR).

Over the last five years of taking pictures (thousands and thousands of them), I think I’ve grown a lot as a photographer. In part, it has to do with the amount of experimentation I’ve done; working with natural light, some basic styling, and composition to get the right look and feel for each dish. But there’s no denying that the equipment I’ve practiced on has influenced my work.

Initially, I shot everything for A Thought For Food using the lens that came packaged with the camera body (often referred to as a “kit lens”). It was an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 and the results were ok… but the images were lacking the depth that I strove for. After researching lenses, I decided to purchase an EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens. Everywhere we traveled, every time we went out for lunch, I took that with me. It was light and compact, making it ideal for getting in some quick shots at a busy restaurant. I began a series of posts called Silent Sundays, where I did my best to capture the essence of these establishments. A few months later, I was asked by one of these restaurants to take professional photos for them. They liked what they saw in the Silent Sunday post and wanted me to come in to photograph their new menu items, as well as action shots of the dining room and in the kitchen.

After more work came in, I knew an upgrade was in order.  The best resource out there are other photographers, so I reached out to the ones I’d become friendly with. Everyone told me the same thing: spend the money on lenses… then upgrade your body when you’re ready. Since I’m doing a combination of food/restaurant photography, as well as general lifestyle work, I wanted something that would be versatile, allowing me to not only take pictures of dishes and ingredients, but portraits as well. I borrowed a friend’s EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens and knew that’d be the one to get the job done.

From there, I upgraded my camera body to an EOS 7D. Then I picked up some more lenses: an EF 50mm f/1.2L USM (a worthwhile purchase because of its wide aperture and USM (UltraSonic Motor), which allows the lens to autofocus faster than other models,), an EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM, and an EF 17-40mm f/4L USM. Last year, I bought the Canon EOS 5D Mark III (which has a full-frame sensor, versus the EOS 7D which is a crop-frame) At $3400 it’s a scary purchase, but I’m absolutely in love with it. For those who feel ready to make the investment, you won’t regret it.

Now that I’ve given you a little backstory, let me explain what’s going on here. A few months ago, Canon asked me to talk a bit about how I use their lenses to photograph restaurants. To demonstrate this, I went to one of my favorites in the area, West Bridge. The design of the space is some of the best I’ve seen. There’s a balance between rustic and modern that they’ve nailed and this also comes through in the food created by Matthew Gaudet.

You can view more restaurant images over on my portfolio site.

Interior of West Bridge in Cambridge, MA|| via A Thought For Food

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens

Photographing Restaurants with Canon Lenses

What’s in my bag: 
Canon EOS 5D Mark III Body
Canon EOS 7D Body (backup)
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM
Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro USM lens
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM
SD cards

West Bridge in Cambridge, MA|| via A Thought For Food

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens

Interior of West Bridge in Cambridge, MA|| via A Thought For Food

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens

Interior of West Bridge in Cambridge, MA|| via A Thought For Food

Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens

Interiors + Exteriors

Dining at a restaurant isn’t just about eating and drinking, but environment and mood too. Before photographing a dish, I capture other details: table setups, the bar, the kitchen, as well as any signage or outdoor dining area.

The majority of the time, I’m using one of two lenses: the EF 17-40mm f/4L or the EF 50mm f/1.2L.  The EF 17-40mm f/4L is a wide-angle lens, and, therefore, is able to take in a large amount of space in a single shot. The lens also works well in tighter spaces, such as restaurant kitchens. This is what I use almost exclusively for photographing dining rooms. It should be noted that, like all lenses, the results are different if you’re using a crop-sensor camera. It’s a bit more noticeable, though, when using a wide-angle lens, as you won’t capture the same area that you would on a full-frame camera.

When I want to feature a specific section of a dining room or focus on certain details (a row of tables, light fixtures, patrons sitting at the bar, etc) I switch to the EF 50mm f/1.2L.  This lens, with its large aperture (models vary: f/2.5, 1.8, 1.4, or 1.2) allows for a shallow depth of field; a single item can be in focus when everything beyond it is blurry. I’ll use this when I want the image to feel like it’s from the perspective of the patron: looking across a long line of tables or down at a menu. This is seen in the above vertical images of the dining room and table with a place setting. Since I wanted to keep the majority of those images in focus, I went with a higher f-stop (f/6). Yes, the background is a bit blurry, but the table, plate, glass and chair are all crisp. However, you can see the difference if you look at the below food image (labeled “Quinoa, Char and Kale Salad: Left: Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens, Right: Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM”) that I shot at f/2.8. The dish is in focus, but the areas in front and behind are not. For more tips, and information, be sure to check out the Canon Explore Lenses website.

The size of the aperture on the EF 50mm F/1.2L makes it so more light can enter through the lens opening, thus making it ideal for low-light environments. This can be the case with a dining room, which are usually not well lit (especially during dinner service). The wide aperture allows me to shoot at a faster shutter speed (resulting in a crisper image) or a lower ISO setting (resulting in less grain (or “noise”) in the photo).

What’s nice about photographing a restaurant using a fixed lens like the EF 50mm f/1.2L is that, as you walk around the restaurant looking for something to take a picture of, you already know the field of view that you’re working with. This means that, in your mind, you already have your shot composed, even before you bring the camera up to take the shot. If I were to use a zoom lens, I’d have to look through the viewfinder and then compose my shot. I find this experience far more enjoyable.

Interior of West Bridge in Cambridge, MA|| via A Thought For Food

Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens

Quinoa, coconut, radish, pomegranate, and kimchi at West Bridge|| via A Thought For Food

Quinoa, coconut, radish, pomegranate, and kimchi at West Bridge; Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens


For photographing food, I’m often inclined to go with a fixed lens: the EF 50mm f/1.2L or EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM. The main reason for this is because the subject I’m shooting is stationary and, therefore, zooming in and out isn’t necessary. The EF 50mm f/1.2L is the lens I use most frequently since the EF 100mm Macro would require that I stand in the middle of the dining room to capture a dish. I not only want a crisp, clean shot of the food, but it makes the subject more compelling to get some of the environment around the plate, which the 100mm won’t provide.

With that being said, there are some instances when the EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro lens comes in handy. For example, there are times when a portion of a dish is more visually interesting than the whole plate. We’ll use the beet and salmon roe toast featured below as an example. While this is a gorgeously composed plate, I find that the textures and colors of the dish are what really make it so striking. Therefore, getting in nice and close to the layers of beet, mustard, and roe, showcase it better than the shots photographed with the EF 50mm f/1.2L or EF 24-70mm f/2.8L .

Speaking of the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L. For a while, this was the lens I used exclusively for photographing food. And it does the trick. While I don’t use it as often, I find that it comes in handy when I need to get an overhead shot of a table with multiple plates on it. The EF 50mm f/1.2L, as you can see, isn’t wide enough (I’d have to stand on a chair or ladder to make that work). The EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro definitely wouldn’t be the right lens. With the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L, I can usually hover above the table and get the shot that way… but I’m also 6’1″ tall.

Quinoa, coconut, radish, pomegranate, and kimchi at West Bridge|| via A Thought For Food

Quinoa, coconut, radish, pomegranate, and kimchi at West Bridge; Left: Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens, Right: Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM

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  • Mardi (eat. live. travel. write.)October 27, 2014 - 6:35 am

    Brian what a great post. It’s been wonderful following along your photography journey over the past few years and reading this just goes to show how much thought and work you put into it. An excellent reference piece – epic, yes, but so useful (and beautiful!)ReplyCancel

  • Los | The Man, The Chef, The DadOctober 27, 2014 - 6:35 am

    Amazing post! Epic is a good word, haha. But there’s a lot of great information here.

    I was lucky enough to finally get my first DSLR earlier this year (T3i) and I still get excited every time I pick it up. I felt it was time for the upgrade, I just had the feeling of needing more from the shots I was capturing because the Canon point and shoot just wasn’t cutting it.

    Like you, I grew up with Canon thanks to my parents. So when I finally got the T3i, I managed to get them to part with one of their lenses. After a few weeks of annoying my wife with the camera quickly becoming an extension of my hand, I knew my first purchased lens was going to be the 50mm. I borrowed my cousin’s and was instantly sold. Now, it’s my go-to lens and I feel saddened in situations where I can’t use it.

    Though it looks like I’m years away from where you are since I’m in no position to be buying more expensive lenses, I’m going to enjoy every second I have with what I have. The way I’ve progressed and the differences I see in my pictures from when I started my blog to now are mind blowing. And I know I can only get better.

    Thanks for the great post!ReplyCancel

  • Gerry @ Foodness GraciousOctober 27, 2014 - 9:21 am

    This is the kind of post I’ve been wanting to read for a while! Packed with info I’ll be reading it many times so i don’t miss anything. I feel like i should be upgrading to a FF after playing with various lenses on my Rebel but anxious to take the big step :)ReplyCancel

  • Amanda @ Cookie Named DesireOctober 27, 2014 - 11:23 am

    I’ve always loved your photography. I’ve always been a Nikon girl for the same reasons you use Canon. It’s what I grew up with. I’ve always been Canon-curious and am considering buying a Canon. The one thing holding me back is that everything Canon seems almost like a foreign language to me. Your post actually helps break down the important things I need to know regarding the lenses and a bit about the cameras themselves. Maybe I will take the plunge one day sooner than I originally thought.ReplyCancel

  • Jen @ My KItchen AddictionOctober 27, 2014 - 11:43 am

    I can’t tell you how much I love this, Brian! It’s epic, but it’s a great read. I read every single word (and, I confess, I am often a “skimmer”)… And, I will probably re-read it.

    I just upgraded to the 6D (thought about the 5D Mark III, but I like that the 6D body is just a bit lighter and less bulky… Also, it has Wi-Fi to connect to my iPhone/iPad for “tethered” shooting, which I guess isn’t really tethered, huh?)… So far, I’m loving it, and trying to force myself to break out of just shooting with my 50mm f/1.4 lens, which has become a crutch for me. Just did a portrait session for some friends with the 24-105mm lens yesterday, and it was surprisingly tough!

    Anyway, I’m now leaving an epic comment. Just wanted to say thanks for sharing all of your insight… It makes it all very approachable, which is fabulous! Of course, now I want to go buy a new lens. :)ReplyCancel

  • Jeanette | Jeanette's Healthy LivingOctober 27, 2014 - 4:09 pm

    Great information – the examples showing the different types of shots depending on the lens are particularly helpful. Thank you for sharing your experiences!ReplyCancel

  • JulieDOctober 27, 2014 - 9:33 pm

    Great post and tons of great advice and tips! I am a huge Canon fan too!! I keep eyeing the Mark III…I have the II and love it!ReplyCancel

  • TieghanOctober 27, 2014 - 11:15 pm

    This post!! I love this post. Reading about photography is my favorite and I am now set to go and by the 5D Mark iii. I need it!ReplyCancel

  • Toni DashOctober 28, 2014 - 4:09 am

    I love this; knowing your history, how you’ve selected your ‘next steps’ in terms of lenses and camera bodies. I especially love seeing the lenses you use for each shot. I love my 50mm lens but have yet to use it in some situations as you have. I noted you did not share any shots using the 24-70mm; with all of your lenses now, how would you use that lens?ReplyCancel

  • Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabblesOctober 28, 2014 - 1:35 pm

    What a great info-packed post! I need to upgrade my camera body and a lens or 2. Or 3. :)ReplyCancel

  • Brandon @ Kitchen KonfidenceOctober 28, 2014 - 5:35 pm

    Awesome post Brian!! I’ve been relying on just one lens recently, and I really need to switch it up a bit. Thanks for the inspiration!ReplyCancel

  • JessicaOctober 29, 2014 - 11:39 pm

    Great post. I have a Niko but feel the same way about getting a lens upgrade. I found a 50 mm lens that works great with food shots. Hoping to get a lens that is more versatile for food and landscape.ReplyCancel

  • JoanneOctober 30, 2014 - 7:31 am

    I love love love this!! I haven’t gotten a new lens in way too long and I’ve been itching for one…since I’m a Canon girl, this was a super useful post!ReplyCancel

  • Lori RiceOctober 30, 2014 - 12:49 pm

    Thanks so much for this! It’s such a helpful post. I’m in that stage where I haven’t upgraded to full frame yet and gathering as much research as I can for when I do. Beautiful photos. ReplyCancel

  • MonetNovember 1, 2014 - 12:14 am

    This was so fun to read. I shoot Nikon, but I love reading about how you do what you do (and what you do is beautiful beautiful work!)ReplyCancel

  • […] post on how to photograph food! that’s […]ReplyCancel

  • Averie @ Averie CooksNovember 1, 2014 - 7:25 am

    I have the same body and the same 3 lenses, the only one I don’t have is the 17-40. But of those 3 remaining, they do everything I want (I think!).

    “While I don’t use it as often, I find that it comes in handy when I need to get an overhead shot of a table with multiple plates on it. ” <– same! I used to use that lens ALL the time but then I got my 100mm macro and I find it's just so much crisper and cleaner and I use that lens 95% of the time. I'll even stand wayyyyy back from the food just to use it rather than using the 24-70 or the 50mm. I just love the sharpness I get from my macro.

    I loveeeeed this post and thanks for sharing and all the details and sample shots. So interesting, helpful, and awesome!ReplyCancel

  • Bri | Bites of BriNovember 1, 2014 - 5:01 pm

    I’m a fan of canon too and have been for some time. A new lens is in my christmas wishes and this was sooo helpful!ReplyCancel

  • Millie | Add A LittleNovember 2, 2014 - 3:04 am

    Amazing post – loved reading all about it!ReplyCancel

  • Christine DavisNovember 4, 2014 - 11:43 am

    Hi Brian, great post and thank you! I, too, am a Canon fan. Quick question, what lens do you suggest (Canon of course!) to do a chef portrait? And also your photos have wonderful tones… may I also ask do you use for your post-production, Lightroom or PS? Thanks so much and again enjoy your blog.ReplyCancel

  • Tiffany | offbeat + inspiredNovember 7, 2014 - 8:51 am

    I love this post so much. Your photos are absolutely stunning and I’m fascinated by your process! I’m a huge fan of Canon too! I have the Mark II and my go-to lenses right now are the 35mm 1.4L, the 50mm 1.4 and the 100mm. I love your tips about photographing naturally, the way the eye would take in a space. Shooting restaurants is so much fun and you do it INCREDIBLY well. Thank you so much for sharing this!! You’re making me want a 17-40! :DReplyCancel

  • Make It Like a ManNovember 18, 2014 - 2:10 pm

    I love your site. The pictures, obviously fantastic. But I also love the way you write. Your voice is so clear, I feel like we’re having a conversation. Bravo!ReplyCancel

  • GerardJanuary 17, 2015 - 8:57 pm

    greetings, can you recommend me a good lens for photographing food?ReplyCancel

  • Ann Hsu KaufmanFebruary 13, 2015 - 7:02 pm

    I just discovered your blog through this post and I really love your photography and your writing! Thanks for the inspiration.ReplyCancel